Welcome back to another week of Beating the Spread. As always, I’m Jake Roy and I’m joined by Brennan Rampe and Tyler Gentile. We’ll be here every Friday throughout the season, posting our picks along with some analysis.
It’s a small slate this week as several teams take the latest possible bye week. There are also a number of sketchy lines on the board, at least in my opinion. It’s a unique challenge for the panel this week, but as always we’ll bring the winners.
You can play along in the comments or find us on Twitter (@Jake3Roy, @808Paperboi, @phdinnfl). Assuming -110 odds we need about 53% to break even, let’s see if we can hit that magic number for the season and come out with some profit. So, without further ado, here are the lines we’ll use for Week 14!
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)
|Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)
|Tyler Gentile (@808PaperBoi)
|Bengals/Browns under 47.0
|Eagles/Giants under 45.5
|Bengals/Browns under 47.0
|Chiefs/Broncos under 43.0
|Steelers/Ravens under 44.5
The theme of the week is trap lines. There are a few spreads this week that don’t make a ton of sense to me, so I’ll play them and see what happens. There is no way the Lions should be two-and-a-half-point favorites here. The Vikings are a playoff team and the best team in the NFC North despite playing close games seemingly every time out. The public is going to be all over the Vikings. For that reason and that reason alone, I’ll take the Lions. DET -2.5
Pick number two is a pick based on principle. The Texans are catching 17 points against the Cowboys. I don’t care if it’s Matt Schaub at quarterback, I’m taking 17 points every single time. The Cowboys might cover this number in the first half. It could also be a look-ahead spot or a backdoor cover. HOU +17.0
Third on the docket are the Bengals and Browns in Cincinnati. I always love unders, especially against teams that just put up big weeks. The Bengals’ offense looked great against the Chiefs on Sunday and earned a big win for their AFC North title fight. Coming off an emotional win, I expect a bit of a letdown. The first time these two met, the Browns scored 32 points on their way to a dominant victory. I’m expecting both defenses to be the story in this one, getting after the quarterbacks and making life difficult. I’d prefer to see the total at 48, but I’ll still take the under. CLE/CIN U47.0
This one is also a bit of a trap, but I’ll go against my better judgment and eat the cheese. The Seahawks aren’t the type of team to overlook anyone. Geno Smith has something to prove and has been proving it week after week. The Panthers have very little left to play for, have a rotating cast of characters at quarterback, and are yet to win a game on the road. There’s no reason the Seahawks shouldn’t run right over them at home on Sunday. SEA -4.0
Last and hopefully least, we have the other AFC North divisional game. The Ravens will be missing Lamar Jackson and rolling with a backup quarterback. The Steelers’ offense is inept regardless of the quarterback. Pittsburgh’s season is all but over, but any time the Ravens come to town it’s a meaningful game. It’ll be a classic Steelers/Ravens fight in a phone booth. 20-13 Steelers, or something like that. BAL/PIT U44.5
It was a two-point game in the third quarter when the Cowboys and Colts played each other last week. It was 21-19, but then the defense caused multiple turnovers, scored a touchdown, and the final score ended up being 54-19. Dallas’s offense also performed well, and they could soon be even better. Left tackle Tyron Smith is expected to return soon after a training camp injury, and wide receiver James Washington should be returning soon from a broken foot that also occurred during training camp. There’s also the possibility of the team adding free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. I’ve been giving it some thought, and I now feel the Cowboys are the best team in the league, and they’re my pick to win Super Bowl LVII. Their opponent, the Texans, are the worst team in the league. They are 1-10-1 and keep finding new ways to lose. The Browns didn’t score a single offensive touchdown against them last week and still won. Davis Mills is starting again, but it doesn’t matter. Houston is awful and they need help at every position. This is the biggest spread I’ve seen all year, but I’m taking it. Inside the Numbers: The Cowboys are 6-5 against the spread in non-conference games under Mike McCarthy. DAL -17.0
Divisional totals go under at an insane 65.5% clip this season, so let’s take a stab at a total that feels a couple of points too high. Deshaun Watson made his first start in over two years last week, and what a shocker, he was rusty. He underthrew his receivers time and time again, but luckily the defense and special teams stepped up and did all the scoring the Browns needed en route to a 27-14 win over the lowly Texans. The Bengals managed to slow Patrick Mahomes down to just 223 yards and one TD last week, so what is a crusty Watson really going to muster up this Sunday? Cleveland will likely lean on the ground game, but D.J. Reader has other ideas out there on the defensive line.
The Browns have had the Bengals’ number for quite some time now and have won five straight against Cincinnati since Joe Burrow debuted in 2020. They held the Bengals to just 13 points in week 8 and this just feels like a letdown spot for the Bengals coming off a big win over the Chiefs. I lean to the Browns covering, but I like the under more with the questionable quarterback play out of Watson. History tells us the familiarity between divisional teams tends to lean to the under anyhow… CLE/CIN U47.0
Sticking with the divisional under-trend, let’s root for plenty of punter action in this contest. I wanted to take the Giants +7 but didn’t see how they would score. Similar to the Titans last week, the Giants have no weapons in the passing game whatsoever. Jordan Davis returned for Philly and they had no trouble clogging up the running lanes on Derrick Henry even though Davis only played 6 snaps. I’m sure they’ll ramp up his usage this week. Tennessee scored just 10 points against them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles did the same to the G-Men this week. The most likely game script here is the Eagles pour it on early (they’ve scored the most points in the first half, averaging 19 per game, and are 9-3 ATS in the first half) the way they always do, and slow down the offense in the second half. They are 25th in second half scoring averaging 9.3 points in the latter part of games. The Eagles are actually 1st in opponent yards per play while the Giants rank 24th. UNDER, UNDER, UNDER! PHI/NYG U45.5
You best believe I’m pairing the divisional under trend with the best betting trend of them all this year: Denver Donkey unders. There hasn’t been a safer bet than taking a Broncos’ under this year. Admittedly, taking a Chiefs game at this low of a total does not feel safe at all, but Denver games are 11-1 to the under for a reason. I see this game playing out the way the Chiefs and Rams game did a couple of weeks back, y’know, because Bryce Perkins (who?) is basically Russell Wilson at this point. That game against LAR ended in a 26-10 KC win. The Broncos are now averaging 13.8 points per game, the lowest since the 2000 Browns. KC/DEN U43.0
Will the Chargers ever have a relatively healthy season? Year in and year out they are ravished by injuries and look at their updated injury report this week. The entire right side of the offensive line is questionable, Derwin James and Bryce Callahan have yet to practice, and they have 11 other players on IR at the moment. It does look like they will get Mike Williams back, but his addition alone won’t be enough to keep up with the high-octane Miami offense.
The Dolphins’ offense finally met their match facing San Francisco last week, but the Chargers aren’t in the same stratosphere as SF in terms of defensive prowess. They are 31st in opponent yards per play, 27th in EPA/play, and 23rd in DVOA. Mastermind Mike McDaniel will get his offense back into form this week, and there’s a decent chance starting left-tackle Terron Armstead returns. It’s a small sample, but ever since they added Bradley Chubb the Dolphins are 9th in EPA/play on defense, and they have allowed the fewest yards per play over their last three contests. The Chargers always Charger…give me the Dolphins to bounce back on SNF. MIA -3.5
There are a couple of consistent themes with the Kliff Kingsbury-led Cardinals. Number one: they always fail to cover at home. Since 2019, when Kingsbury took over, they are 12-19 against the spread when playing at State Farm Stadium, which is the fourth-worst home ATS record. The other more glaring Kingsbury trend: his teams always limp to the finish line. Including his coaching record at Texas A&M, he is 45-24-1 in weeks 1-7, and 17-47 in the remainder of the year.
He is no match for the almighty Bill Bellichick this week. The Patriots aren’t great by any means, but the Cardinals are simply that much worse. They are 30th in total DVOA (combines both offense and defense) compared to the 12th-ranked New England side. Arizona is coming off a bye, but that is negated considering the Patriots have had extended rest since last Thursday. The red birds will get Hollywood on the field with Hopkins finally, but that will be negated thanks to their offensive line. They have been missing four of their five starting lineman from the start of the year, and PFF ranks them as the 27th-best unit. Kyler Murray will undoubtedly be under duress against the Pats’ pass rush which has generated the second-highest pressure rate this season. The Pats are 3rd in defensive DVOA, 3rd in EPA/play, and have allowed the 6th fewest yards per play. The Mac Jones offense, while not explosive by any means, will manage to get it done against the Cardinals’ defense who are in the bottom 10 in DVOA, EPA/play, and YPP. NE -1.5
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)